Gig workers are among the hardest hit economically by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey. AppJobs – an online platform to compare app-based jobs around the world – said many have had to quit their gig jobs due to a decrease in demand, as well as their own safety concerns.
What Is the Gig Economy?
In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who rarely change positions and instead focus on a lifetime career.
The gig economy is based on flexible, temporary, or freelance jobs, often involving connecting with clients or customers through an online platform.
The gig economy can benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and demand for flexible lifestyles.
At the same time, the gig economy can have downsides due to the erosion of traditional economic relationships between workers, businesses, and clients.
The latest Online Labour Index figures show that India is home to more than 25 percent of workers observed, followed by Bangladesh at some 17 percent and Pakistan at about 13 percent. Together, the three countries total 55 percent of all online gig workers. The U.S. is in fourth place with around seven percent, with the Philippines close behind at around six percent.
The information is collected from four of the largest online labor platforms, also known as online freelancing or online outsourcing platforms: Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, and PeoplePerHour. The Labour Index site states that these four marketplaces represent at least 40 percent of the global market for platform-based online work and are “likely to give a reasonably good indication of the overall contours of the market, and especially of what skills different countries bring to the global market.”
Almost 70% of gig workers said they now have no income, and only 23% have some money saved. Among gig workers and the self-employed, some 89% are now looking for a new source of income. Over half of gig workers said they had lost their jobs; more than a quarter had seen their hours cut.
The coronavirus crisis has shone a spotlight on many of the long-term struggles faced by gig workers. While the gig economy offers flexibility, workers have limited access to unemployment benefits, health insurance or sick leave.
Almost 70% of the workers surveyed said they were not satisfied with the support they had received from their companies during the pandemic. Over half expected some help either from the government or the companies they work for.
AppJobs surveyed 1,400 gig workers – which include independent contractors, workers for online platforms, contract, on-call and temporary workers – to find out how COVID-19 had affected them.